Police: Walmart Shopper Doused Halloween Costumes With Lighter Fluid, Set Them On Fire

There always has to be someone – or something – that tries to ruin everyone’s favorite spooky holiday: the thief who wiped out a preschoolers’ pumpkin patch, the wild boars that threatened to put a damper on trick-or-treating, and now a California man who allegedly set an aisle of Halloween costumes on fire at Walmart. 

A 40-year-old man was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of arson after police claim he sprayed lighter fluid on a rack of Halloween costumes and set them on fire, prompting the evacuation of the store, KTVU-TV reports (warning: link has video that autoplays).

Police say surveillance footage of the incident shows a man taking a two-liter bottle of charcoal lighter fluid off a garden area shelf and walking around the store.

“Once he was in the store, they saw some sort of container inside a cart that was leaking liquid as he pushed it throughout the store,” San Leandro police Lt. Robert McManus said.

A short time after witnesses saw the man pushing the cart, a fire started in the Halloween area. A customer posted a video on Twitter showing candy and costumes on fire and smoke billowing down the aisle.


“A lot of families were in the store purchasing items for Halloween,” the man told NBC Bay Area (warning: link has video that autoplays). “That’s something that’s heartbreaking.”

Walmart security was able to apprehend the man before police arrived. No one was injured in the incident and authorities say they have yet to discover a motive.

“We are still reviewing surveillance video from the store, interviewing witnesses and evaluating evidence, hoping to piece this incident together,” Lt. McManus said Tuesday evening. “Although we don’t know how many customers and employees were in the store when the fire started, we do know that it was a very dangerous situation that placed others in danger.”

Fire at San Leandro Walmart prompts evacuation [KTVU-TV]
Halloween Costumes Set on Fire Inside San Leandro Walmart [NBC Bay Area]

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